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Young Fee-Only Planners Get a Foot in the Door

NAPFA officially launched a new networking group geared toward younger people looking to get into the fee-only space.

David Grant started out as a receptionist at a fee-only firm, trying to work his way up to eventually becoming a financial planner. But after three years at the firm, he realized that career track wasn’t materializing for him. He wasn’t sure what steps he needed to take to get that planner job he coveted. Then last summer, Grant, now 28, was hired as a financial planning analyst at Vantage Financial, a fee-only firm. At Vantage Financial, his career route is very clear.

“Getting your foot in the door is a lot harder in the fee-only space,” Grant said.

And so Grant decided to create NAPFA Genesis, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors’ networking group geared toward younger people looking to get into the fee-only space, which officially launched today. He is the founder and volunteer leader of the group. While the Financial Planning Association’s NexGen group for younger professionals has been around for a while, the group focuses on all business models and offers a voice to people who are 36 or younger.

Grant recognized a need to focus on fee-only careers for people in their 20s and early 30s in particular, as people in this age range were getting sidelined at NexGen. His group is only open to those who are under 33 years of age, because he wanted to focus on college students and young associates getting started in the career. There are 45 NAPFA members who meet the age requirements, and so are considered automatic members of the group, but Grant and NAPFA expect that number will grow.

It’s a good time for it. The wealth management industry has lately been worrying over the graying of the profession. Half of all advisors are over 50, with only 19 percent in their 30s and a mere 6 percent under 30. Among fee-only advisors, there are 17 percent in their 30s and 5 percent younger than 30. The average age of advisors rose to 48.6 in 2010, according to Cerulli Associates.

“Those providing financial planning services are getting older so there is a need to develop a strong presence of competent fee-only professionals to help drive the industry forward,” Grant said in a statement.

NAPFA’s new networking program hopes to play that role. A lot of people have a degree in finance but don’t know how to get into the industry, except on the sales side, Grant said. Eventually, he hopes to get together with firms that have internships or entry-level positions and pair up graduates with these firms. “Networking is everything.”

The program, free to those meeting the necessary requirements, consists of discussion forums and social networking on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The group will hold social events at NAPFA’s National 2011 conference in May to kick off the launch and bring awareness to Genesis. Grant hopes the 2012 conference will have a dedicated track for the group.

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